A sad event unfolded on September 9, 2023, when Stephen Mugambwa, a National Resistance Army (NRA) Bush War veteran, was laid to rest in his ancestral burial ground in Kikondo Village. What makes this story even more tragic is that Mugambwa had been left homeless following a brutal eviction that took place during the Covid-19 lockdown in Kimegeredde Village, Semuto Town Council, Nakaseke District.
The eviction, which occurred on February 24, 2022, saw Mugambwa’s house demolished to the ground using heavy machinery. This ruthless act shocked many, shedding light on the harsh reality faced by bibanja holders, particularly in the central region of the country.
The ordeal of Stephen Mugambwa took a toll on his well-being. He suffered from trauma and stress, which may have contributed to his untimely demise after suffering a heart attack.
Even more heartbreaking is the fact that President Museveni had met with Mugambwa shortly after the eviction, promising to resolve the matter. The President’s visit to Kijaguzo Catholic Parish in Semuto Town Council on April 30, 2022, marked an attempt to address the issue. However, despite his interest and directives to his officials, the government’s ability to resolve land disputes was called into question by the local residents who attended the burial.
Nakaseke South Member of Parliament Paul Lutamaguzi revealed that the landlord responsible for demolishing Mugambwa’s home and seizing his land had also taken legal action against him. The situation had escalated to a High Court case in Luweero, where both Mugambwa and Lutamaguzi found themselves entangled in a land dispute.
The eviction itself, which occurred during the Covid-19 lockdown, raised eyebrows as it defied a presidential order against such actions during the pandemic. Mugambwa’s house was razed, and his gardens were destroyed in a single night.
The attackers, acting on a controversial court order issued by Luweero Chief Magistrate under Civil Suite No.076 of 2018, carried out the eviction. In this legal battle, Mr. Sula Sserunjogi, a former RDC, claimed ownership of the land on Block 241, plot 12 Bulemeezi, despite Mugambwa’s claims of inheriting the seven-acre land from his late father in 1974.
In response to these events, Sserunjogi asserted that his actions were within the bounds of the law, emphasizing that the courts had ruled in his favor. He believed that the matter had been unnecessarily politicized.
Maj John Kaddu, another former bush war veteran, and a former RDC echoed the sentiment of many, urging the government to address the concerns of bibanja holders who were being denied their rights to land ownership. He recounted his own legal troubles when he attempted to protect Mugambwa after the 2022 eviction. He lamented the tragic outcome, where Mugambwa passed away homeless, losing property he had owned for over 45 years to a land grabber.